Intrusion detection systems monitor corporate networks to detect efforts to break in from outside through the Internet; some also work on intranets or extranets to detect employees or partners trying to get into areas that are off-limits. Vulnerability testing is a related area: Someone probes a corporate network for weaknesses that hackers might attack so the company can plug security holes.
Such security monitoring services are growing in popularity. IBM signed a similar deal with WheelGroup last July for its emergency response service, and Perot Systems in November announced it will resell WheelGroup's NetRanger intrusion detection software and use WheelGroup's NetSonar software in Perot's vulnerability service.
Rob Clyde, a general manager at Axent Technologies, a sometimes-rival of WheelGroup, calls the growth of intrusion detection services "an extension of the outsourcing trend."
Axent's sales of its antihacker software are more than doubling over the previous year's, he said.
"When we meet with customers, one of the first things they ask is, 'Can you help us detect when someone attacks our system?'" Clyde said. "Almost everyone has been attacked and it hurts. At the very least, they want to be be able to detect when it happens again."
WheelGroup spokesman Doug Webster sees interest among major systems integrators like EDS, IBM, and Perot as a sign that network security is growing beyond a niche market.
"Now security is being taken into the system integration arena by bundling it into a variety of different offerings. We see security moving into the infrastructure where customers will no longer be demanding security but expecting it in whatever hardware they buy," Webster added.
But analyst Jim Balderston of Zona Research said his firm's recent survey among IS managers found relatively few had signed up for either intrusion detection or vulnerability testing.
"We were kind of surprised that so few had done it. We think it's because overwhelmed, under-resourced IS guys are being asked to do simultaneous but contradictory things--make the network more secure but with more open access," Balderston said.
"It puts them in a bind. They sort of don't want to know. If they run penetration testing, then their to-do list quadruples," he added.
WheelGroup's deal with EDS means that not only will EDS use NetRanger software in its outsourcing service but it also will sell NetRanger in systems it integrates for customers. A separate part of the deal is for EDS to install and support WheelGroup's software, freeing WheelGroup to focus on security, not customer support.
Few of these deals between security software vendors and systems integrators are exclusive. Axent, for example, has a deal with IBM's Tivoli network management unit to build Axent's security monitoring software into Tivoli's TME and to run it from a single management console.